More than three decades before SeaWorld opened in Orlando in 1973, Marineland of Florida was a major tourist attraction, hosting as many as 900,000 visitors annually.
Located between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, Marineland started out as Marine Studios. Business partners W. Douglas Burden, Sherman Pratt, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, and Ilya Tolstoy (grandson of Leo Tolstoy) envisioned a venue for filming underwater sequences for movies, but quickly realized the potential of the facility as a tourist destination.
Florida is known around the world as the home of major theme parks such as Disney World, Universal Orlando, Sea World, and Busch Gardens. There are smaller theme parks here as well, including Marineland, Weeki Wachee, Gatorland and Dinosaur World.
The state tourism agency Visit Florida estimates that 94.7 million tourists came to Florida in 2013, most of them visiting at least one theme park.
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